Home' Capricornus Quarterly : CQ April 2016 Contents 15
changes our world
There are lots of things not taught at school, but as Michelle Waller and Julieanne Harris
write, Literacy – the mastery of a range of practices across the curricula – will enable
students to achieve their potential and prepare them as successful learners of anything
In October 2015’s edition of we
shared with you an article about Literacy at
RGS (browse at www.capricornusquarterly.
rgs.qld.edu.au). Here, Dean of Studies,
Dr Michelle Waller and Literacy
Coordinator, Juileanne Harris, bring us
up to date on how RGS is enhancing
literacy skills across the curriculum.
‘framing’. It also
literacy is and an acceptance that
every teacher is a literacy teacher.
Over the last few years teachers across
the School have worked together to
develop a common understanding of
what Literacy means throughout the
RGS Secondary School curriculum,
especially in Middle School:
Literacy is the mastery of a range of
practices that enables every student
to achieve his or her potential and
prepares them to be successful, active
participants in 21st century life. The
abilities to effectively comprehend
and purposefully construct meaning
through reading, writing, speaking,
viewing, creating and listening in a
diverse range of contexts are developed
across the curriculum in a progressive
way that acknowledges prior knowledge,
enhances confidence, fosters interest
in subject matter, engages thinking
skills and promotes further learning.
Whilst focusing on writing, we
discovered differences in how teachers
and students approached, discussed
and evaluated written texts. It became
clear that we needed a metalanguage
– a common language which
would work across the curriculum.
And we found it in Education
Northwest’s 6+1 Trait®Writing.
The Traits is a well-regarded,
practiced and proven method used
by thousands of teachers worldwide
to improve writing instruction, to
better understand the qualities of
good writing and to enhance student
feedback across the curricula.
Traits are founded on the principle
that every piece of writing involves
seven distinct elements: Ideas/Content;
Organisation; Word Choice; Voice;
Sentence Fluency; Conventions;
and Presentation (the ‘plus one’).
Yet there is more to literacy than
writing. Literacy in Secondary
schooling extends beyond the pure
mechanics of language. In Secondary
School, we consider Literacy as
the ‘language of our subjects’.
Since 2014, Literacy has become a
fundamental element in the School’s
unique learning framework and
all Secondary departments have
embraced it as part of their planning.
For example, with Year 7 having
moved from Primary to Secondary
School, we worked closely with Year 7
teachers to collaboratively plan and
create resources, analyse student work,
model and discuss lessons, interpret
literacy data and enhance the learning
of each subject’s language. By working
alongside students, we ‘learnt by doing’.
Our Business Studies department has
researched, created and implemented
a range of highly effective routines,
resources and approaches. For instance,
teachers insist good practices such as
weekly dictation, reading from business
journals, self and peer evaluations of
writing, ‘read-alouds’, and consistency
aim is to ensure
used by students
from Year 7 to
12. Clarity of
these terms means students understand
how to respond accurately in discussions
and assessments. Terms such as ‘explain’,
‘discuss’, ‘analyse’, and ‘hypothesize’
require explicit understanding.
They demand specific thinking and
responses. As such, it is essential
students are taught the differences
and expectations of such terms.
Throughout Term 1, teachers
from across the Year 8 curriculum
joined forces to uncover best literacy
practices for targeted groups of
students. Their ongoing goal is the
collaborative creation of a digital
bank of techniques and tools designed
specifically for the differentiation
of literacy teaching and learning.
Underpinning all of these endeavours
is our driving ideal that ‘every teacher is
a literacy teacher’. In working toward this
ideal, we have a strong literacy culture
at RGS and are mobilising literacy from
the pages of the Australian Curriculum
to the voices of our classrooms.
Michelle and Julieanne share their RGS Literacy
experiences in the next edition of Independence,
the biannual journal of AHISA, the Association
of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia.
The abilities to effectively comprehend and purposefully construct
meaning through reading, writing, speaking, viewing, creating
and listening in a diverse range of contexts are developed across
the curriculum in a progressive way that acknowledges prior
knowledge, enhances confidence, fosters interest in subject
matter, engages thinking skills and promotes further learning.
Year 8 Students (from left to right: Nora Waller, Lillie Bain and Sansuka De Silva) conduct self and peer assessment using Traits® with
assistance from RGS Literacy Coordinator, Mr Julieanne Harris (left) and Dean of Studies, Dr Michelle Waller.
PHOTO: MR DAVID THOMSON
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